Cleburne ISD Chief Financial Officer David Johnson has been named the senior budget and finance officer for Fort Worth ISD.
Fort Worth trustees approved the recommendation for Johnson’s employment at Tuesday’s school board meeting. His first day with FWISD will be August 7.
“David Johnson has meant much to this district,” Superintendent Dr. Kyle Heath said. “Through his leadership, Cleburne ISD has established itself at an exemplary level. He has earned the respect of our entire community. The legacy he leaves is a district in good financial stead, and a strong team in our business department.”
“He has been a dedicated member of Cleburne ISD and our administrative team,” Heath said. “He has made a difference in district operations and made a difference for the kids we serve. I couldn’t be more proud for him and am grateful for the opportunity to have served with him.”
Johnson is in his tenth year with Cleburne ISD, coming to the district in 2008 to oversee financial and business operations. His service in Cleburne was preceded by four years as the CFO for Keene ISD.
“In 2009, the Texas Association of School Business Officials had a listing for a chief financial officer for Fort Worth ISD,” Johnson said. “I knew it wasn’t a position I was prepared for, but it was something I aspired to do—to work in a higher level position in a large school district.”
That opportunity came several weeks ago when Johnson received a phone call from the very person who filled that job listing back in 2009. Following a discussion with Fort Worth Chief Financial Officer Elsie Schiro, Johnson scheduled an interview which was followed by a job offer.
“I prayed about it repeatedly,” Johnson said. “I felt like it was where I was meant to be. My ten years with Cleburne have prepared me for this new position.”
As senior budget and finance officer, Johnson will be involved in the management of a $952 million budget adopted for 2018-19. His duties will include financial, purchasing, accounting and position control operations. Fort Worth is also in the midst of a series of capital improvement projects following the 2017 passage of a $750 million bond referendum.
“Fort Worth will spend approximately one billion budgeted dollars this year,” Johnson said. “This is going to be a new and really big challenge—and I’m excited about the opportunity.”
He has already made a positive impression on Fort Worth administrators, who have expressed amazement at the level of detail within Cleburne’s operating budget.
“I believe I am bringing an expertise to the position in evaluating how dollars are spent,” he said. “I think that is something necessary to any school district.”
Many of the procedures developed by Johnson during his years as CFO have been adopted by school districts across the state.
“Cleburne was a high-risk auditee and high-risk grantee when I came to the district,” he said. “We got off the high-risk grantee status in five months. That has always been a point of pride for me to have that removed in such a short period of time.”
In the Texas Education Agency’s lifting of the high-risk grantee status, state officials cited Johnson for his efforts in developing and revising policies and procedures relating to fiscal and grant accounting matters.
“To receive that acknowledgement was the highest honor I have received in my professional life,” he said. “After two cycles of extensive audit work well above the standard, our high-risk auditee status was returned to the standard audit level. We were very pleased and proud to see that achieved. It was an indicator of our efforts to satisfy the stringent compliance standards that had been placed on our district.”
Cleburne School Board President John Finnell expressed his gratitude for Johnson’s service to CISD and his dedication and commitment.
“We have to wish David great success, but he will be sorely missed,” Finnell said. “Over the past decade he has done an outstanding job for us in building solid processes and a solid team in the Business Office. He has done an excellent job in enabling us to develop and execute a financial budget year after year.”
“His commitment and transparency with the board of trustees has been invaluable,” Finnell said. “Cleburne has been lucky to have him and owes him a debt of gratitude for his service to our students, schools, employees and constituents. Any good leader will build a strong process to outlive them, and David has done that. He is very good at what he does—and at empowering others. We may be losing him, but we will not be losing the benefits he has provided within his department and his team.”
Johnson says it has been very meaningful to serve in the school district where he received his education. He is a 1984 graduate of Cleburne High School.
“When I accepted the job here, it was with a desire to help our district get through a rough patch and a return to normalcy,” he said. “It was all about wanting to help a district where I and my family went to school and where my kids were going to school.”
With two daughters now graduates of CHS and a third going into eighth grade at Wheat Middle School, Johnson will continue to cheer for the black and gold, despite his new alliance with FWISD.
“I will definitely miss the relationships I have here,” he said. “So many of us get along so well—we are co-workers and close friends. That’s the hardest part about leaving.”
“Anytime you leave something in which you have put your heart and soul, you want to see that success continue,” he said. “I have the best team in our Business Department. I can say unequivocally my staff is super at what they do. We could not have had the successes we have achieved without this dedicated, professional staff. I am very proud to have served with them, and to have been a member of the CISD family.”Heath said Johnson will continue to be a resource for CISD following his move to Fort Worth. Efforts to fill the CFO vacancy will begin with the posting of the position and the formation of a selection committee in finding the best fit for the district’s head of finance and business